Sunday, May 28, 2017

Share-a-Tea May Check-In

  • What are you currently reading for the challenge? 
  • Have you finished any books for this challenge this month?
  • Is there a book you're looking forward to starting next month?
  • Want to share any favorite quotes? It could be from your current read. It could be about reading. It could be about drinking tea. 
  • What teas have you enjoyed this month? 
  • Do you have a new favorite tea?


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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We're All Wonders

We're All Wonders. R.J. Palacio. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I know I'm not an ordinary kid. Sure, I do ordinary things. I ride a bike. I eat ice cream. I play ball. I just don't look ordinary. I don't look like other kids.

Premise/plot: We're All Wonders is a companion book to R.J. Palacio's Wonder. It's a picture book prequel, of sorts. It is an affirming book with a couple of strong messages. One of the messages is daring yourself to see differently, to see the WONDER in all of us.
I know I can't change the way I look. But maybe, just maybe...people can change the way they see. If they do, they'll see that I'm a wonder. And they'll see that they're wonders, too.
Look with kindness and you will always find wonder.
My thoughts: Does the world still need anti-bullying messages? I think that's an obvious yes. Words hurt--as do actions. Sometimes the pain is inflicted purposefully, intentionally. Sometimes not. Sometimes we're just clueless about how the little things we say or do effect others. Either way.
This book has an obvious message, a positive message. I think it's very well-written. The illustrations make sense if you're familiar with the cover of the original novel. But if you're not, I'm not sure what you would make of the illustration style.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos

8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chao. Vivian Vande Velde. Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. 2011. Holiday House. 68 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Being a squirrel is the best thing in the world.

Premise/plot: One day a squirrel named Twitch ends up INSIDE the school. How? Why? Well, Twitch was seeking to outrun an OWL and a dog. Twitch had until then only been acquainted with the school pets through the windows. Now, he finds himself in need of a lot of FRIENDS and ADVICE. Why? Well, the dog--the principal's dog--follows him INSIDE as well. (The owl doesn't!!!) Soon, both are trapped by the closed doors. The dog remains in pursuit of the squirrel; the squirrel has to be quick, quick, quick. The end result is a LOT of laughs. Each chapter is narrated by a different animal.

My thoughts: This one was so much fun. I didn't expect it to be so FUNNY and enjoyable. I think the alternating narrators makes this one even better than it could have been. Almost every chapter has something worth quoting--worth sharing--to draw in reluctant readers. I think this would be a great read-aloud in the classroom.

For example,
A squirrel mother teaches her young all they need to know by the end of summer, but human children spend five years in School. Five years is long enough for a squirrel to grow very, very old, so it's a good thing we're faster learners. And the humans aren't even truly finished in five years!
Ms. Walters never talks about being in first grade, so I think she may have skipped first grade, too. But she does talk about last year's second grade class. I'm smart enough to know that means Ms. Walters was kept back. But I am polite enough not to mention it.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Say Hello to Zorro

Say Hello to Zorro! Carter Goodrich. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mister Bud had it pretty good. Everything was just right. He had his own house. His own bed. His own toys. His own dish. But most of all...he had his own schedule. And everybody stuck to the schedule.

Premise/plot: Mister Bud is a dog who likes things his own way. This book is about when a new dog, Zorro, comes. Everything changes, but, are the changes for the better or for the worse? Will Zorro and Mister Bud get along?!

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I loved the schedule bits! I really liked how these two resolved things! Definitely recommended for dog lovers of all ages.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pig the Pug

Pig the Pug. Aaron Blabey. 2014. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Pig was a pug and I'm sorry to say, he was greedy and selfish in most every way.

Premise/plot: Pig is a selfish, greedy dog who often gets REALLY, REALLY, REALLY upset with the other dog of the house, Trevor. Trevor seems to be a happy-get-along-with-everybody dog. Essentially, Trevor and Pig are complete opposites. One day his selfishness leads him into big trouble....

My thoughts: I didn't like this one very much. The rhyming worked for me for the most part. But the story itself was just okay, in my opinion. While Pig got exactly what he deserved, I just wasn't charmed overall.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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